Farmers' situation terrible, says Rahul Gandhi in LS

Farmers' situation terrible, says Rahul Gandhi in LS

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)

 The Congress’ outgoing president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said that the farmers across the country were in a “terrible” state and the government led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) should honour the commitments Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made to them five years ago.

This was the first time Rahul Gandhi spoke in the Lok Sabha after the House was reconstituted and he stepped down as the president of the Congress, owning up the responsibility of the debacle the party suffered in the parliamentary elections held in April-May this year. His attempt to hold the Modi Government responsible for the plight of the farmers was countered by Defence Minister and the BJP’s deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, Rajnath Singh, though. 

“The farmers in the country are suffering. I would like to draw the attention of the government towards it. I was sad to see that no concrete step was taken in the budget to provide relief to farmers,” Gandhi said during Zero Hour in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. 

Singh sought to turn the table on the Congress. He said that the erstwhile governments had been responsible for the plight of the farmers. 

Gandhi was defeated by Smriti Irani of the BJP in his pocket-borough Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. He was elected to the Lok Sabha from Wayanad in Kerala. He visited Wayanad last month and Amethi on Wednesday. 

He referred to the recent suicide of Ankittan, a debt-ridden farmer, in Wayanad while speaking in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. He noted that the banks had sent notices to 8000 farmers in the constituency for non-payment of installments for refund of loans. He also said that properties of the farmers were being attached by the banks for non-recovery of loans.

“In Kerala, 18 farmers have committed suicide since banks began recovery procedure one and a half years ago,” he said, adding: “(The) Government of Kerala has announced a moratorium on repayment of farm loans for all Kerala farmers till 31 December, 2019. Meanwhile, the Government of India is refusing to direct the RBI for to consider this moratorium and get it implemented.”

“I would like to request the Union Government to direct the RBI to consider the moratorium by Kerala Government and ensure that the banks do not threaten farmers with recovery notice.”

He also said that Prime Minister had made certain commitments to the farmers five years ago and the government should honour the commitments. 

Gandhi’s comments on the plight of farmers and his reference to the commitments made by Modi triggered protests from the MPs of the ruling BJP. 

Singh said that the parties, which had been in power for decades before Modi Government had taken over, were responsible for the plight of the farmers. He said that the income of farmers increased by 20%-25% as Modi Government had started several initiatives for them.